Cross-border freight trains link inland China with the world

By LUO WANGSHU, FU YIFANG and QI XIN in Zhengzhou | | Updated: 2023-09-18 11:20
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A fully loaded freight train undergoes thorough inspection in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, and heads to Hamburg, Germany, on Sept 17, 2023. [Photo by Fu Yifang/]

On Sunday, customers were seen shopping at a retail store at Zhengzhou East Railway Station in Central China's Henan province. Some read the label of the product carefully, some window shopped and some used mobile phones to check the product's price on other e-commerce platforms.

"I bought some green bean cake from Malaysia. I don't know the taste but it's worth to try," a customer said, lining up to pay the bill.

The store, like tax-free shops at airports, sells imported products, mostly carried by freight trains from Europe and Central Asian countries to the inland city.

The products include cosmetics, wine, beverage and snacks.

Similar outlets have also been set up in cities across the province by Henan Central China Railway Tourism Group.

The China-Europe freight trains have become a link for global partners to share the benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative. "We are trying to bring the benefits from the cross-border freight trains to local residents," said Han Wei, general manger of the group.

Zhengzhou, the capital of the inland province Henan, has extended its link with the world via the cross-border freight trains.

The first China-Europe freight train departed from Zhengzhou in 2013.

"At the beginning of the operation, there was one service each month, but now there are as many as 34 train services every week," said Li Wenbiao, Party chief of Putian freight railway station in Zhengzhou, where all such trains depart the city.

The station has adjusted the facilities and service systems such as adding more tracks in the station, building operation lines to cater for containers and launching a system to prevent containers from uncoupling from each other to cater to the increasing number of the China-Europe freight trains, Li said.

Since the launch of the service, more than 8,400 freight train services carrying 730,000 containers have operated between Zhengzhou and Europe. Among them, more than 4,300 are outbound services and about 4,000 are inbound, according to China Railway Zhengzhou Group, the regional service operator.

Its network has extended to more than 140 cities in over 40 countries.

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